Archive for November, 2014

Herbert Thomas Higgs, in the Walsall Observer, 17 June 1916

Herbert Thomas Higgs, in the Walsall Observer, 17 June 1916


Herbie Higgs turned out to be our only fallen sailor and the search for this man took me from Oldbury to Aldridge, then to Castleford (Yorkshire), then to Heath End (North Walsall) and finally to Great Wyrley. The story would take in not only his attestation to serve, but also that of a father that would outlive all of his natural children – a fate no parent deserves… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/herbert-higgs-ab-jutland-the-somme-of-the-sea/

Short Heath war memorial on the night of 12 November 2014, bedecked by poppy tributes to the fallen. This year, Thomas Jones will also me remembered for the first time.

Short Heath war memorial on the night of 12 November 2014, bedecked by poppy tributes to the fallen. This year, Thomas Jones will also me remembered for the first time.

Read the updated story of Sapper Thomas Jones and the quest to find him a place to call home. https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/articles-other/sapper-thomas-jones-a-place-to-call-home/

Cannock Advertiser, 21 Nov 1914. An account of Masters' death. (Cannock Library)

Cannock Advertiser, 21 Nov 1914. An account of Masters’ death.
(Cannock Library)

Masters is one of a few soldiers that is represented on both the Great Wyrley memorial gates and the Cheslyn Hay war memorial. Like many soldiers, Joseph Masters’ Great War record doesn’t survive and so we have to piece together his story from the few fragments that we have from other sources. Initially, I intended to write this article and publish it on the same day – the 7 November 2014 – as I only found that day (yesterday) that Masters was killed on this day, a century ago. Something made me hold fire – and I am pleased I did, as I managed to get to Cannock Library where I found an obituary in the newspaper. This showed that he was in fact killed on the 6 November and added a little more biographical detail… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/wyrley-landywood/great-wyrleys-fallen-wwi/lcpl-joseph-masters-a-century-past/

The final page of Ralph's first letter, talking of when 'the British Bull-dog bites...' (Walsall Local History Centre)

The final page of Ralph’s first letter, talking of when ‘the British Bull-dog bites…’
(Walsall Local History Centre)

As an archivist, every now and then a collection comes along that peaks my curiosity perhaps a little more than others; this story is about one of those collections, or more accurately two of them. It started back in October 2013 when a letter arrived at the Walsall Local History Centre that was postmarked ‘America’. Inside were two letters sent in April 1915 from a solder, ‘Ralph’, to the proprietors of the Herbert’s Park Tavern in Factory St, Darlaston.’Ralph’ was clearly unidentifiable from the letters, but they do give some clues about his identity and clearly show what he thought of the War: his vivid account of the machine-gunning of stretcher-bearers chilled me. Then in October 2014 a couple of unconnected WWI postcards appeared, or so I thought. The name ‘Ralph’ and the handwriting seemed familiar. I had already listed the first collection, but could this wierd coincidence add anything further to our knowledge… https://wyrleyblog.wordpress.com/walsall/ralph-ralph-who-letters-from-the-western-front-to-darlaston-1915/